Jedd Fisch: Finances, stability key in Arizona’s Big 12 vs. Pac-12 decision

Aug 1, 2023, 11:20 AM

Big 12 or Pac-12? The Arizona Wildcats aren’t playing coy about the decision in front of them.

Arizona head football coach Jedd Fisch said Tuesday at his team’s first full media session of camp practice that his school is indeed at a fork in the road.

“Truthfully, I’ve given a lot more thought to our team and what we need to do to win games than I have about where we’re going to play in 2024 and beyond,” Fisch told reporters in Tucson. “I recognize that people are putting, let’s call it some added pressure, that the University of Arizona will be the program that makes the final decision of what happens in the conference. I don’t think that’s the case.

“I think that the decision was made by other programs to change the conference and now it’s going to be a matter of the University of Arizona to decide what’s best for Arizona.”

The Colorado Buffaloes’ move to the Big 12 following USC’s and UCLA’s departures last summer put Arizona on the clock to some degree.

According to reports, University of Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins requested that Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff share TV and media rights proposal details with the conference’s members on Tuesday. That sharing came and went Tuesday morning without any vote to accept or reject a deal, according to Yahoo!’s Ross Dellenger, John Canzano and The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy.

Robbins will ultimately lead the Wildcats if they deem that sticking with the Pac-12 is the right move. The league has only has nine committee teams at present for the 2024-25 academic year.

But Fisch expressed what he hopes the Wildcats land on, regardless of which conference they play in.

“I would say stability is what’s best. Whatever we end up doing, I would imagine that that decision by our president is going to be solely based on the stability of wherever we land, the conference we land upon and the financial benefit of the multimedia rights of our conference,” he said.

“I’ll say this. Athletics are very expensive and to run sports programs is very expensive. The NCAA has continued to loosen rules when it comes to feeding players, when it comes to travel, when it comes to certain advantages, when it comes to bonuses, call it, if you hit a certain GPA … all of those things go into making running an athletic department extremely important.”

Fisch added he wasn’t surprised about Colorado’s move to the Big 12 last week and had seen it on the horizon.

“Good for them,” he said.

It was a different tone from Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning, who on Monday took a shot at the departing Buffaloes.

“Not a big reaction,” Lanning said. “I’m trying to remember what they won to affect this conference and I don’t remember. Do you remember them winning anything? I don’t remember them winning anything.”

And in Tempe, Arizona State first-year coach Kenny Dillingham — Lanning’s offensive coordinator a year ago — steered clear of the conversation entirely.

“Oh, yeah, cool,” Dillingham said. “We’re playing Southern Utah in Week 1. That’s literally all I care about.

“We’re going to be the best versions of us, every single day, in everything we do, all the time. We’re going to get better and better and better.”

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Jedd Fisch: Finances, stability key in Arizona’s Big 12 vs. Pac-12 decision